Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, John Leguizamo, Harold Perrineau, Pete Postlethwaite, Paul Sorvino, Brian Dennehy, Paul Rudd, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Miriam Margolyes
Directed By: Baz Luhrmann
Written By: Craig Pearce, Baz Luhrmann
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 2 hr
Never I think has there been a story more told, than that of Juliet and her bloody Romeo. A story you all probably know very well, since it’s been told countless times. But, there is a chance you’ve lived under a rock for the last couple of centuries, so here’s the short short version. Boy meets girl, and they fall madly in love. Boy and girl’s families hate each other. Drama and tragedy ensue.
I don’t mean to be flippant about one of Shakespeare’s greatest hits, it’s just one of those stories that I think has been done to death. I feel the same way about The Three Musketeers, and Les Misérables, and if another version of Robin Hood comes along I’ll probably just let it pass by.
But if you’re going to take on one of The Bard’s classics, rip a page out of Baz Luhrmann’s book, and breathe some life into these old tragic tales. Craig Pearce and Baz Luhrmann have taken the heart of the classic story, and fashioned a modern uber-stylish film around it. Faithful to the basic plot of the original, but not necessarily to the characters, as some Capulet and Montague roles switch sides, others are renamed, and even our star-crossed lover’s parents get titles.
Another important element to get right is the casting. If you’re going to make people sit through yet another adaptation of this story, at least hire some dynamic and exciting players. Romeo + Juliet does this perfectly in my opinion. The entire cast seem very comfortable with the original text, and it blends well with the modern Mexico City setting and gangland vibe. The most notable supporting characters being, Mercutio (Harold Perrineau), and John Leguizamo’s Tybalt, whose menacing dialog delivery and screen presence got me hooked into this slick adaptation right from the opening scene.
The real stars of this film however, other than Baz Luhrmann’s manic direction, the excellent soundtrack, editing and photography, are the story’s young lovers. Without a believable Romeo and Juliet, this tale of woe is going nowhere. Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes are excellent together in this, and even though I knew how this story plays out, the power of their performances, still had me choked up and the end.
This is a loud and fast, young and brash adaptation of the Romeo and Juliet play. It’s not completely faithful to the original text either, and will likely appeal more to younger viewers, or just fans of great film making.
This is a gorgeous film with a superb soundtrack so if a theater screening were available, that’s the best way to enjoy this movie. At home, a HD viewing on your nice big TV and surround system will do. Watching this on anything smaller like your laptop, tablet or even phone, will negatively impact your enjoyment of this film and is not recommended.
It’s all good as far as I’m concerned, but if I had to pick one moment above all the others, I’d go with John Leguizamo’s Tybalt and his fantastic dialog delivery during the opening scene at the gas station.
‘Peace? Peace. I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.’